Since the end of the 15th century there have been more than enough trees and sand in the north of the Vosges to be able to make glass. In 1794 a glassworks was set up, whose later reputation was linked with the name of a man called Emile Gallé. Between 1866 and 1870 he was officially responsible for making glass in Meisenthal, and from then on until 1894 he continued with unofficial manufacture. In the 20th century pressed glass was made here, but after 1945 it reverted to handicraft glass. But the signs of the times demanded efficiency and economy in glass manufacture and the upshot was that the glassworks were closed down in 1969.
The names of Meisenthal and Gallé go together. Charles Gallé, the father of the famous glassmaker and manufacturer Emile Gallé cooperated with the Meisenthal glassworks of Mathieu Burgun. And between 1885 and 1894 Gallé’s right-hand man, the head of the painting workshop, Désiré Christian worked exclusively on Emile Gallé’s designs for 20 days a month. The ironic point about this collaboration was the political relationship between France and Germany. For after the 1870/71 war Meisenthal belonged to Germany, whilst Nancy was the business headquarters of the French patriot, Gallé. For this reason the glass objects produced in Meisenthal by Désiré Christian carried the signature of Gallé and place of manufacture, Nancy.
The glassworks might have ceased operations, but their legacy refused to die. Former glass workers joined forces in 1975 to set up a Glass Museum. Its history is now linked with the Saar Art College that was set up in 1989. Since 1992 workshops have been held for students at the art colleges in Saarbrücken and Nancy featuring internationally renowned glass artists and designers like Borek Sipek, Jasper Morrison and Enzo Mari. Thanks to financial help from the EU regional structural fund, it was able to set up the International Glass Centre and Glass Museum. From the gallery of the glass centre visitors can look down on glass blowers at work in hellishly hot conditions. After this they have the opportunity to purchase Christmas tree globes, glass tops or other objects from the series produced in Meisenthal.